A piping bowl of cheesy polenta is one of the most comforting foods. I love cooking it in the winter plopped under a lovely stew, the perfect foil to those heartier toppings. For the summer, polenta may seem too heavy, too dense, but I decided to lighten it up a little by tossing in summer vegetables to cook right along with the polenta. My first thought was to throw in some corn to make the corn flavor really pop, but I was late to the farmers' market and none was to be had. Instead, I threw in some finely shredded zucchini, and I dare say this version is even more fun. It dots the polenta with little specks of green and lightens the whole dish. I knew I was going to top the polenta with my Saffron Tomato Jam, so I drew on the Spanish cuisine and sprinkled in some shredded Manchego. Of course, another aged cheese would work, even good ole cheddar.
This is the perfect way to sneak in some vegetables if you have some veggie skeptics. While it is delicious as is, a poached egg could turn this into something really special.
Zucchini and Manchego Polenta with Saffron Tomato Jam
5 1/2 - 6 cups water
1 1/2 cups polenta (cornmeal, not instant)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 large zucchini, grated
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces or 1 1/2 cups grated Manchego cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
Saffron Tomato Jam, for serving
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, for serving
Bring 5 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add polenta and salt and whisk thoroughly. Reduce heat to low and cover and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent polenta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Stir in shredded zucchini, cover, and allow to cook for 10 more minutes. If polenta is rather thick, stir in 1/2 cup more of water and stir to absorb. This can vary depending on how pulpy your zucchini is. Remove pot from heat, stir in olive oil, grated cheese, and adjust for salt and pepper. Top with saffron tomato jam and toasted pine nuts. Enjoy! Serves 6.